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Green Lantern

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Green Lantern Movie Poster Image
Entertaining but superficial superhero thriller.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 23 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 55 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie has a pretty powerful (if superficially explored) message: It's OK to admit fear; it's the first step to overcoming it -- though acting out of fear can destroy you. And when you're called to greatness, take heed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though he's a bit of a cad, Hal Jordan is a good guy with a caring heart and a fearless nature that he harnesses for good. There are villains, too, but they're clearly portrayed as such and are ultimately doomed.


The main monster, the Parallax, is pretty scary and could definitely frighten younger children. The movie is filled with loud explosions and battle scenes, mostly involving a lot of punching and throwing and, in one case, deadly light rays that sear through a character's core. There's little blood or gore, though in one scene, a syringe is shown plunging into a character’s eye. Another tries to attack his own father.


Some flirting and kissing; a couple is shown briefly under the covers on a bed. It's implied that Hal has had a one-night stand (he's shown in his underwear). Brief cleavage shot.


Occasional use of words like "s--t," "a--hole," "goddammit," "hell," "son of a bitch," "crap," "damn," "goddamn," and "bastard"; a character gives another the finger.


Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise. A few labels/brands visible, including Pabst, Apple, and an LG phone.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking of beer and hard liquor at a bar, but no one gets sloshed. Social drinking at parties.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this big-screen take on the classic comic book superhero, starring Ryan Reynolds as a cocky test pilot who morphs into a superhero, offers lots of fast-paced, combat-filled action, much of it cartoonish in nature. And the movie's Parallax monster is pretty scary (especially for younger kids), but there's isn't much in the way of blood or gore -- though one scene does show a syringe going into a character's eye. The movie is humorous at some moments and intense during others; it superficially addresses heavy topics like death and childhood trauma. Expect infrequent swearing ("s--t," "a--hole," etc.), some drinking (mostly social, by adults), flirting, kissing, and a shot or two of characters in skimpy apparel (one after an implied one-night stand).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written bymeljen June 17, 2011

Good message, some scary images

This movie had a very good underlying message of having courage, not running away, and not giving in. It did have a few swear words that weren't necessary... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 and 15 year old Written byWorldwithinreason June 17, 2011

Good movie but confused with studio's decision with language

I found it disheartening that the writers had to use inappropriate words to convey an emotion/message (i.e. bull****, the "B" word, a*****e) in the fi... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 18, 2011

Green Lantern

This movie was sort-of lame. There wasn't enough action, and too much storyline. It made the movie boring. I laughed in a few parts and some parts were coo... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old January 19, 2014

What's the story?

A beloved member of the Green Lantern corps of intergalactic police has died, felled by a monster known as the Parallax that feeds off fear. The glowing ring that empowers him also hunts for his successor; surprisingly, it chooses Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a headstrong, impulsive, irresponsible, but talented pilot who's still plagued by the death of his father (also a flyer) in a fiery crash. Hal's not sure he’s up for the job (though he's clearly tickled by the idea that he's a superhero). As former paramour/colleague Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) reminds him, he's more capable than he allows himself to be -- but can he face off with the Parallax, even if it means confronting a childhood friend (Peter Sarsgaard)?

Is it any good?

Buoyant, irreverent, and not entirely satisfying, GREEN LANTERN is, as superhero movies go, heavy on the artillery (special effects) and light on profundity. Is it really that difficult to create a superhero with complexity (Spider-Man and Iron Man excepted)? It's not for lack of material; Hal Jordan, after all, has plenty of childhood trauma to mine. Although the movie acknowledges his torment, it spends much more time painting him as a bad-boy-with-a-heart enlivened by a ring that allows him to perform super-cool tricks. (As Hammond, Saarsgard does a better job at three-dimensionality but is also plagued by too much theatricality.)

The movie admittedly engaging at first -- wouldn't you be agog, too, if you discovered you had the ability to create anything simply from willpower and thought? But the conceit gets old quickly. Characters that could easily have lent Hal gravitas -- his nephew, his brothers -- disappear without a trace. Any nod to his shades of gray are quickly erased. This isn’t to say that Reynolds fails; on the contrary, his easy charm appeals. But next time (if there is a next time), can his Jordan plumb more emotional depths?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Hal is reluctant to step into his role. What holds him back? Is this a typical reaction of would-be superheroes in other movies?

  • Do the movie's special effects minimize the violence? How does the impact of this kind of violence compare to more realistically violent scenes?

Movie details

For kids who love superheroes

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